Photo (cc) by Robert S. Donovan
If you own a small business, then you know how hard it can be to bring customers in the door and keep them coming back. This is especially true when your business is something as common as pizza.
“Yes, it is very competitive,” says Alberto Aletto, the new owner of “Tucci’s Pizza” in Boca Raton, Florida. “You’ve gotta be able to shine otherwise you’re going to get lost in the mix.”
And part of “shining” is getting the word out, usually through advertising. For a small business owner like Aletto, operating with little money already, finding the funds for advertising isn’t easy. So, he’s taken a new high-tech approach. See what he’s doing in this video…
So bringing customers to your small business, and keeping them, should include these four high tech tips:
1. Location-based networking.
While location-based networking may sound sophisticated, the idea is simple enough: Reach out to people in your immediate geographic area and try to get them to stop by your business. Think of it as the high tech version of standing on a street corner and waving a sign at passing motorists, except instead of standing on a street corner, you’re combining the GPS tracking feature of smart phones with applications like Foursquare, Loopt and Centrl to bring nearby customers into your business.
Example: I turn on my smart phone and choose to share my location. Immediately my favorite smoothie place automatically shows up as nearby on my phone’s map. A smoothie sounds good, maybe I’ll head there. But, wait! Also showing up on is a new smoothie shop, directly across the street from my usual hangout. And right there on my phone I see they’re offering a grand opening half-price special. Guess where I’m going now?
That’s location-based networking.
2. Social networking
According to Jay Berkowitz of Ten Golden Rules, another way to attract customers is to incorporate Twitter and Facebook into your marketing. (Money Talks News, along with most other news-gathering organizations, use both these tools.) They’re free, effective ways to reach old and new customers alike.
“Entertain them, surprise them once and a while, put a special up find different ways for them to want to be friends with you in these social media environments,” Berkowitz tells me. He also suggests these sites:
- Myspace allows you to create a profile like Facebook, but gives you more freedom over the design.
- Youtube is a free video streaming service where you can post videos about your business.
- Flickr is site that will let you upload photos of your business. Posting pictures of fun events will encourage others to join you next time.
- Google Buzz is a bit like Twitter and Facebook, but much newer. You can share promotions and coupons with contacts, who can then re-share them with their own friends.
Don’t know what to say on these sites or how to create a video or social networking webpage that will appeal to your customers? Get ideas by looking at what’s worked for other businesses. For example, the Blendtec company has had millions of people see their products by producing silly YouTube videos of their blenders blending everything from golf balls to iPads. People watch because the videos are novel and briefly entertaining, but sure enough, there’s a Blendtec blender in every one of them.
Stay in front of your customers by regularly sending out an email newsletter. Give people an incentive to join your mailing list by offering a discount or giveaway for new signups. But once you’ve got a mailing list, don’t use it to annoy or sell things, but rather to offer information about things your subscribers may be interested in; maybe a recipe for simple home-made pizza, new cooking techniques you’ve discovered or new menu items. And, of course, mixed in with those interesting articles will be incentives to get them back in the door, like coupons or special discounts. You can start your mailing list today with a site set up for sending mass emails like Constant Contact, Vertical Response or MailChimp. They’ll also help ensure your mailing is complaint with the CAN-SPAM Act, meant to reduce junk email.
5. News feeds
Set up a blog online and give out the address to your blog’s RSS Feed (Really Simple Syndication) on your website. Your customers can subscribe to the RSS Feed using common software like Outlook, Firefox, Safari or Google Reader, and will be automatically notified whenever you post something new on your site. It’s a great way to stay in almost instant contact and ensure your customers never miss another one of your promotions.
Full Interview with Jay Berkowitz
Here’s a clip with extra information from location-based networking, to social media to using YouTube as a free advertising source. This is the raw interview with Jay Berkowitz.
Bottom line? The Internet has made it easier than ever to make and maintain relationships with your customers. You only need to spend a little time developing the knowledge and familiarity with social networking tools to see an immediate (and free) boost to your clientele.